Day-to-day Hammonds has one to remember Determined to 'find a way to post,' outfielder gets 3 hits, first HR since May

Sidelight

August 03, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF dTC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jeffrey Hammonds made his fifth start in eight games a memorable one yesterday. Not only did he prove the catalyst in the Orioles' 9-2 win over the Kansas City Royals, he unveiled a new motto.

"My new saying," he said, "find a way to post."

The Orioles celebrate. Three hits, including his first home run since May 23, and two RBIs represented one of Hammonds' three most productive days this season. His timing couldn't have been better as the Orioles averted an embarrassing three-game sweep to a nowhere team while raising their second-half record to 18-5.

Hampered by disk problems, numbness in his hands and a sore wrist, Hammonds seldom has played pain-free since early in the season. Both the organization and Hammonds have dealt with large helpings of frustration.

"It's been awhile. It's been awhile. The other day in Detroit was the same situation," he said.

A triple against the Tigers on Thursday served as a positive start. Hammonds has played all three outfield positions in the five games.

There is nothing wrong with his legs. He nearly beat out a routine grounder for a fourth hit yesterday.

Yesterday was about answering questions. Hammonds entered 3-for-16 since leaving the disabled list on July 10. He had been on the DL since June 3 with a herniated disk. Now he is dealing with a chronically sore wrist.

Hammonds emerged from the trainer's room after yesterday's breakout with his hand encased in a heat wrap. The start in right field was his 45th in a season best described as day-to-day.

Hammonds was passed over by manager Ray Miller as a pinch hitter during Saturday night's rancid 9-5 loss. Miller instead used Hammonds as a pinch runner in a 7-5 game, favoring Lyle Mouton instead. Sensitive to the issue, Hammonds refused to discuss his availability for the situation.

"I don't remember yesterday," he said. "I played today."

Hammonds' premature return from the disabled list has fueled daily speculation whether he would be sidelined a second time. Miller has at times been frustrated by the uncertain availability of Hammonds, who has spent time on the DL in each of his six Orioles seasons.

A failure to persuade Miller yesterday might have forced a move tomorrow when designated hitter Harold Baines is activated following lengthy down time because of a strained hamstring. The Orioles, who also will activate Roberto Alomar, will now look elsewhere within the clubhouse.

"He's been having decent swings, but I haven't seen bat speed," said Miller. "Obviously, there was bat speed today."

A stern pre-game meeting called by Miller addressed Saturday night's sloppily played loss. Yesterday began with Brady Anderson striking out and flinging his bat all the way back to the Orioles' dugout. Hitting second, Hammonds reversed the tone.

He hammered a Glendon Rusch fastball halfway up the grassy knoll beyond the Kauffman Stadium left-field fence. The swing was both powerful and quick.

"It's been awhile since I hit a ball like that. Of course, it wasn't expected," Hammonds said. "It's too early to tell, but Tuesday [against Detroit] I want to come out with the same attitude and pick the pitches I have to hit and make sure I don't miss them. I don't know how it [the wrist] is going to feel Tuesday. I hope it gets better.

"You saw and I saw today I'm able to play with it."

In his next at-bat Hammonds peppered an opposite-field ground-rule double. The extra-base hit came after he was ordered to bunt a pitch, which he fouled.

"There are good days and bad days," Hammonds said, tired of his name being used in word association with injuries. "Today was a good day."

Pub Date: 8/03/98

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